When agreeing to serve as a director or trustee of a homeowners’ association or body corporate, your appointment is legally the same as if you were serving on any board of any business entity.
Members of an association, serving a residential community, often agree to serve without considering the knowledge, skills, and experience required to perform the role.
While it is not necessary to attend high-level, difficult training programs to grasp the knowledge required, it is vital that you equip yourself with the basic requirements to fulfil your fiduciary responsibility.
Association of Residential Communities (ARC) has developed a five-hour, modular-based induction program and President of ARC, Jeff Gilmour, notes five reasons for being inducted properly into your new role:
- As a director or trustee, you will be faced with many decisions that you will need to participate in. Legislation requires that you are fully informed, and you have the necessary knowledge to assist when making any decisions, as they will impact the community. Making important decisions – especially where the spending of funds is necessary – is part of the ‘job’ and an area you should be fully familiar with.
- Ensuring good governance and meeting all best practice guidelines is fundamental to your role as a director or trustee of a community association or body corporate. When members of your community scheme elect you as a director or trustee, they will expect that you are – or will become – familiar with industry standards and norms.
- Your role requires you and your fellow board members to set strategy for the community scheme. Being soundly equipped ensures members of the management team have the skills required to implement all elements of that strategy. Being available to provide guidance to your community manager or managing agent requires a high level of dedication, passion, and support. So, while you may perform this role as a volunteer, or on a part time basis, the strategy that the board develops, must be implemented, monitored, and reported on to the members that elected you.
- Members of a community scheme have become far more aware of their rights as homeowners or tenants. Often, a community scheme grouping of residents will ‘watch your every move’, hence the necessity to equip yourself with the basic requirements needed to serve the community in which you live.
- Whether your scheme is a non-profit company, a common law association, or a sectional title scheme, there is legislation that you must familiarize yourself with. This includes the Companies Act, the Sectional Title Schemes Management Act, the Community Schemes Ombud Service Act, and the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI).
Many who volunteer to take up position as directors and trustees are dedicated to creating and maintaining the best possible living experiences within their communities.
At times, it may feel like a ‘thankless job’, but that is often due to other directors or trustees not fully understanding their roles, or owners who rent their properties out to tenants not having the required understanding to meet their commitments to the rules.
Armed with clear, in-depth knowledge of what is required gives you the facts you will need to make decisions, and the understanding you may need to ensure property owners know you’re working to keep their investments sound.